Can Sales and Marketing Get Along?

There are many relationships within a business.  Relationships exist between people, up and down the corporate ladder and between departments.  Often the most important relationship is between marketing and sales.  Many times, this is not a healthy relationship.  Any failures by either side reflect badly on the other and it’s a situation ripe for finger-pointing.  Often it goes like this; marketing notices not all the “leads” they produced have been followed up on.  Sales replies that they didn’t follow up because the leads were crap.  Marketing says, well how do you know the quality of leads you didn’t call.  The battle is on!

Sometimes this battle goes on for years.  It leads to a lack of respect and trust.  And the business fails or at very least fails to reach the levels it could.

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Interdepartmental relationships often take on the style of the respective leaders of each side.  That’s a negative when the heads of sales and marketing don’t get along.  This situation gives license to both teams to dig in, protect their turf and perhaps even see the battle between marketing and sales as sport.  Bad sign.  Likely an unsuccessful business.

But peace and even collaboration can occur between these two parties.  After all, aren’t we on the same team?  In order to have a successful détente it has to start at the top.  The head of sales and the head of marketing must have mutual respect and show that they work together toward common goals.  The leaders should squash any battles quickly and make it clear that fighting with the other group is a serious issue that will lead to negative consequences.

Issues and differences will of course appear in even the closest relationships.  The leaders here must resolve these in private.  Like adults.

One key stumbling point is the place where “leads” leave marketing and enter the sales funnel. This part of the value chain must be managed carefully. The answer is largely in having common goals and defining exactly when the handoff of a lead is appropriate.

It helps also to have marketing that works.  It helps to explain the strategy of each campaign in a kick-off meeting with sales and to have sales at the table in every campaign postmortem. Sales should provide detailed and useful feedback on campaigns, with an eye toward improving the process.  Both sides must work together to continuously improve campaigns.

It’s also the case that some of the best marketing copy and content ideas come directly from the sales team’s experience in working with prospects, answering their questions in selling the product.  If you can integrate or even feature their learning in your marketing, you’ll be well on your way to earning the sales teams respect.  Sales can respond by updating marketing on new messages that are working, or ones that seem to have stopped.

I’ll answer the question in the title of this article one more time: Yes, marketing and sales can get along.  But it’s much more critical than that: for the business to be successful, they must get along.

What is the relationship between marketing and sales in your company?  Do the leaders “get it?”

You can connect with Eric on LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/ericlundbohm/

Follow his updates on Twitter @lundbohm

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